In a dark corner you find an old piece of parchment. You pick it up, brush of the dust and discover it's a song:
The settlers of the West didnt have lot of leisure time on their hands. When you have to spend all day carving a farm out of the wilderness, you dont have much time or energy to indulge in recreational activities. Most of their music, like the song above, consisted of religious hymns brought with them from home. Their music and art focused on nature, events in life, and their jobs.
Most settlers lived miles apart and would go for months without seeing anyone except their family members. Women, especially, grew very lonely and sometimes went insane. At home, most women had close ties to extended family and friends and, since most didnt work outside the home, had frequent contact with them. On the frontier, women would often be left alone with only their children for months when their husbands would travel to find game, retrieve resources like lumber, or go to town for supplies. So when large groups of people got together, for whatever reason, it was a big deal. Rather than having parties, most gatherings focused on a necessary task: quilting bees, barn-raisings, husking bees, cellar-digging bees. But the work was more an excuse than anything else; gossip was the main task at hand. These bees, also called frolics, could last for several days
The men--especially the cowboys--liked to show off their riding and roping skills.
Later, cowboys used their skills to entertain city slickers. Check out Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok and more in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.
Stories, especially legends, were also popular. Sitting around a campfire is conducive to making up or embellishing tales. Perhaps the most popular tale was that of Paul Bunyan. Some people believe Paul originated from French-Canadians; others say a logging company invented it. Still others say it came from Europe and then was embellished here. The story describes Bunyan as a logger of superhuman size, strength, vision, speed, humor, and wit. His giant blue ox, Babe, is his faithful companion. Paul has been credited with creating Puget Sound, the Grand Canyon, and the Black Hills. Babe could drag a whole forest at once. The Bunyan legends circulated through logging camps, changing at each stop. Some were published in the Detroit News-Tribune by James MacGillivray in 1910. To see other users' favorite tales or to add your own stories and legends click here.
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